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Rep. Steve Chabot Remarks to ADL National Leadership Conference

Posted: April 6, 2011

Remarks (as prepared)

by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH),
Chair, House Foreign Affairs Middle East Subcommittee

to the Anti-Defamation League
National Leadership Conference

Washington, D.C., April 4, 2011


Good Morning. As you know, I'm subbing today for Chairwoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who, as we speak, is presiding over a briefing for House members on the Libyan situation.  I bring with me her very best wishes to all of you.  When she asked me on Friday if I could pinch hit for her I told her I'd be delighted.  It's an honor to speak to such a principled, committed and dedicated group of people.


I'm sure you'd like me to talk about ongoing developments in the Middle East and North Africa and I intend to do that.  But, first I'd like to talk for a minute about an issue I think is critical to the future of Israel. And that is the relentless effort by its enemies to delegitimize the State of Israel to cast it as a rogue state, a pariah state if you will, much like South Africa during apartheid and to isolate it politically as well as economically. Delegitimization has been identified as the second most dangerous threat to Israel after Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.  I would urge all of you to join in the effort to counter that movement.  I couldn't agree more with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who recently said that to delegitimize Israelis an affront not only to Israelis but to those quote "everywhere, in every part of humanity, who share the values of a free and independent spirit."


Of course, when it comes to the delegitimization of Israel, one need look no further than New York, where the United Nations has considered more resolutions condemning Israel than it has resolutions concerning all other nations of the world combined.


The discredited U.N. Human Rights Council is at the heart of the anti-Israel movement. Richard Goldstone, the former South African judge and U.N. war crimes prosecutor, and the lead author of a report concluding Israel likely committed war crimes, recently announced that he was reconsidering his conclusion, admitting that quote "in the end, asking Hamas to investigate (itself) may have been a mistaken enterprise" unquote and that the Human Rights Council quote "has a history of bias against Israel that cannot be doubted" unquote.  The response from the Human Rights Council?  It will continue to treat the report, now discredited by its own chief author as a legitimate working document. Unbelievable.


Under Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen's leadership, the Foreign Affairs Committee has begun a series of hearings on United Nations reform - an action I believe is long overdue.  As the U.N.'s leading bankroller, we have that obligation.  And as Israel's closest ally, we must remain steadfast. 


OK. So what's happening in the Middle East? Well, I can tell you that when I received the news back in December that I was going to become Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East I knew I'd have plenty on my plate - but not this much


The regional shifts happening right now in the Middle East place the Unites States and our allies at a key juncture in history.  Our entire strategic framework in that region is rapidly transforming. The precise new composition of the region remains uncertain.  At a minimum, it will be shifting from autocracies of varying degrees to political diversity.


At this critical juncture, I believe the Administration must seize the initiative to cement new partnerships and secure enduring U.S. strategic interests such as: countering terrorism, securing energy supplies for global markets, countering proliferation, moving forward carefully and realistically on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and guarding against the threats imposed by Iran and Syria.  These objectives can only be achieved by establishing the foundations and principles for a new strategic order in the region.  For decades, the United States has been criticized throughout the Middle East for what was perceived to be an unprincipled foreign policy. Today, we have the opportunity to prove wrong those who hold this belief. But that can only be achieved with action.  We must not miss this opportunity.  .


I think we can look at the Middle East today with cautious optimism.  We know now that the claims of many in the past that the Middle East is somehow not ready for democracy are fundamentally false. We're reminded that the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness do not stop at the waters edge


With this in mind, I think we can look to the future with hope - hope that we see emerge in this region true representative governments that embody key principles of democratic societies. At the same time, we have to be concerned that the efforts of so many may be hijacked by extremists who seek to use the institutions of democracy to rise to power only to abolish that very system.  It is the right of the people of the Middle East to ultimately determine their own fate, and we should stand ready to assist them in their effort.


And finally, it goes without saying that we must continue to stand with Israel our democratic ally as Israel defends itself from those in the region who challenge its very existence. And even in these turbulent economic times, we must ensure that our friend receives the economic assistance it needs to protect itself.


Thank you for your warm hospitality this morning.  God bless all of you and your families. And God bless America and God bless Israel.

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